Written by Sara Budge, Programme Director, Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband on 9 May 2016 in Holyrood Magazine.
Commercial providers’ projections showed that by the end of 2017, they planned to have rolled out the technology to 66 per cent of Scottish premises. This meant that 34 per cent of Scottish premises would still be unable to access and benefit from the faster upload and download speeds which come with this new technology.
As a result of these findings, in 2014 the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme was launched to installthe infrastructure required to bring faster speeds to as many people as possible, in the areas which weren’t going to be covered by the commercial roll out of fibre broadband.
The DSSB programme is a key part of the Scottish Government’s plans to ensure that Scotland is a world class digital nation by 2020, The level of funding invested in the programme means that, by the time the programme’ s rollout is complete in March 2018, 95 per cent of homes and businesses across Scotland will be able to connect.
The DSSB rollout consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the rest of Scotland. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, BT, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BUD), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund.
The DSSB programme is one of the most ambitious infrastructure programmers in Europe. Sara Budge, Programme Director for the DSSB rollout explains the challenges: “When planning a rollout on this scale you need to take into account many factors including geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure, getting electricity to the new roadside cabinets and even the weather and local nature. “
Despite these challenges the programme is currently running ahead of schedule. It’s now two years since the first DSSB funded fibre cabinet went live and the following milestones have been reached:
- Over 400 km of cabling has been laid under the sea in 20 sub-sea connections
- A further 6,200 km of cabling has been laid in the ground
- People in all local authorities across Scotland are already benefitting from the programme
- 2484 fibre cabinets have been stood, of which 2455 have gone live
- Over 580,000 premises are already able to connect to fibre broadband thanks to the Digital Scotland rollout, with more to follow. This, figure, together with the commercial rollout means, that already 85 per cent of homes and businesses in Scotland are able to receive fibre broadband (according to Ofcom’s Connected Nations report.)
In order to reap the benefits of fibre broadband, people need to contact their internet service provider and ask to switch to superfast broadband, as upgrades over to the new network are not automatic.
For more information on the DSSB programme and to find out where and when fibre broadband will rollout in your area visit www.scotlandsuperfast.com